First teach.

I had a special experience a few weeks ago, thanks to Lacey Hunter over at Loving the Lack. She generously lent me her class, and they kindly put up with my inexperienced teaching methods.

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I had never really taught before, so I was super nervous. This was a home for teenaged girls, but they were very kind and welcoming, an unlikely little family. (Thankfully) not at all like I was at their age. We altered wooden boxes using phototransfer, painting, and collage. I’ve found these to be my favourite “stop worrying about the outcome and just have fun” techniques.

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Just look how awesome they are! I was expecting to be anxious the whole time, but it turns out it is another feeling entirely. You help people make something, and have fun, and make a mess. You get this sort of glow in your belly, so much different than when you make something yourself. You know their work is good, you don’t have to struggle to view it objectively.

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So then I asked the universe to please give me some more opportunities to teach, and it has delivered! Last week I heard from Dana O’Regan about being his assistant teacher for another set of ArtReach workshops, this time on making art instruments with kids.

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Then I was contacted by my new friend Cheryl Lavigne, who teaches grade four french immersion. Her group was selected for the Fredericton Art Alliance/NB Gov’t program to bring artists into classrooms. We’ll be working together with a film and digital media artist to help the students respond to lessons about french language history.

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I’ve been struggling with where to place my focus this year since I am realizing I can’t do everything all at once. As my teacher would say, better to stretch it out on the timeline horizontally than to stack it up and do everything poorly.

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Decisions are hard, and although we like to believe otherwise, there is often no correct answer. In my art practice, when I reach a crossroads in a project, I look for a push in one direction or the other. Resistance somewhere, or an omen if you like. Although I don’t believe they are actually pointing out the right direction, I use these “signs” as an easy way to make the decision. After all, what really matters is that I start moving.

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This collection of unexpected teaching opportunities, I’m going to accept that as a sign to put effort in that direction. My first experience and their beautiful, unique creations brought me a well of joy.

It can be hard to learn art because it is all about making something different, and this is counter to our urge to fit in. I hope to help people get comfortable taking creative risks and identifying their own core inspirations.

Context/Texture

So I’m back after a little hiatus to finish up the school year and get my messy house in order. There has been a lot going on, so I will have to take a few days to get through it all.

To start with, I’d like to take you on a little tour of our textiles show at the college. I wish I could take you there in person, it’s such a vibrant room to stand in, you can hardly leave in a bad mood.

Here are the collection of scarves which hang in the middle of the room. You can see my nebula scarf toward the left, as well as some other sky-inspired pieces made by my classmates. Toward the back in white and red are a couple of devoré/discharge scarves made by the graduating class.

From left: Iddo van der Geer, Allison Green, Monique Arnold, Kaitlyn Clark

Next we see some stunning felt corsets (completely seamless!) made by my comrades in arms. Next store some fellow with marvelous taste is checking out my “Brief History of Written Communication” paper quilt.

Allison Green, Megan McGeachy

Next in line are the repeat patterns designed and painted in gouache by my surface design class. My blimps are in the middle with a stippled paint technique, and the other girls chose the embroidery-look technique.

Jenna Brayall, Allison Green, Stevie Holyoke

These are a collection of ethnographic samples from the fibre arts group. They are basically contemporized versions of traditional symbols. They are felted, sewn together, and embroidered.

These next are some incredible felt scarves by Alexandra Keely. They remind me of seaweed.

Also reminiscent of seaweed, this time the pods that you snap between your fingers, is this piece by Holly McGee. This picture hardly does it justice. In each pod there are little surprises of stitching and pearls.

These are a couple of capes, the blue one by Jenna Brayall. She has felted directly onto silk organza, and has sewn tiny little beads down the front for an extra bit of whimsy. Way in the back you can see a canvas floor mat printed with a croc and balloons, which was made by a second-year surface student.

Here is a lovely woven piece, second year fibre arts I believe. It iappears both delicate and warm, quite a feat. Beside it are the blankets woven by first and second years.

Here are my nursery rhyme pieces. My ladybug is upside down but she doesn’t really mind, being on fire can be confusing. Next to them are completed nursery rhyme repeat patterns by Stevie Holyoke. At the front is a paper dress by Miss Keely made from little notes and scraps. I suspect it has a story I don’t know it yet.

And lastly we have some woven scarves, delightful felted boots, and woven/felted festival poncho. These are all by first year fibre arts I believe. At the back are some batiked silk kerchiefs, and entering stage right, a blur monster.

Clio Windust, Iddo van der Geer, and more.

It was a show we were all so proud of, and wildly successful to boot. I’ve never seen so many at an opening at our school gallery. The show is aptly named as it is beautifully textural, and the skill in our department really shines through. Yay us!

Playing in goo.

Thought I would share a few of the more interesting textured ground samples from a couple weeks ago. They were made in preparation for my nursery rhyme series. I am really very taken with these techniques. Have lots of plans. Warren is wanting to try it out and I am so excited to see what he will come up with.

The basic method is that you rub a bunch of goo on sheet of heavy paper, and then you muck around in it. After it dries you mercilessly rub on layer after layer of acrylic paint. You just keep messing with it until it looks interesting. The trick is to have very little intention. Just go with the flow and the result is impressive. And make sure you’re covered in colours by the end.

The piece above is just gesso and the pointy end of a pick-comb.

This next one is acrylic gel with plastic mesh like you would use for filling a hole someone punched in your wall. There’s collaged photo in there too. When the paint dried I peeled up some of the mesh to leave white lines.

For this next kind you need a printing press. You dip a piece of watercolour paper in water, pat off the excess, then head over to your press. You put down a piece of matboard, then a few flat-ish items (in this case metal sheep), then your wet paper, then another piece of matboard. You wheel the whole sandwich under the press, and voila! Perfect imprints.

This one is just several layers of newsprint and gel with water. You crumple up your paper to give it texture and then collage it onto the layer below. As many layers as you want. Very thick tends to have a leathery texture. You can tear your paper into strips for a different look.

Then we have a glove stuck in gel. I rubbed paint over it and the peeled up the glove after it had dried. Reminds me of gardening.

These next two are made with a comb, this one with gel….

…and this one with gesso. It reminds me of stucco ceilings, or frescoes. Also the beach. Someday I will do this to an entire wall.

I learned this next method at a “Mixed Media with Maps” workshop at the CSEA conference this year. You put a bunch of string down, then soak some thin paper towel in gel and water, and press it down over the string. Put on a bunch more gel for good measure.  Rub over it with your fingers to get out all the air bubbles and accentuate the string.

There’s a whole slew more where those came from, but you get the idea. Fun with goo is addictive, be prepared to shirk your other responsibilities.

One goes up while the other comes down

The saltscape city has crumbled into the sea, but I’m sure it won’t be my last fling with crystal-making.

The show I took part in at Gallery Connexion, called “The View”, came down today. It was mostly for students at my school. I had a few pieces in it that I made last year while taking the Foundation Visual Arts program:

The piece below is a ceramic lizard eye. The nice lady who runs the gallery told me it looks like a vagina. Go figure.

This one is a cross-contour pomegranate I made from pen and ink in my first ever drawing class. One of my prouder moments.

This is a piece I made for art history, inspired by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. It is probably the largest painting I’ve made, and includes gouache, acrylic, acrylic gel, and copper foil. I painted it from a photograph of my very lovely and patient boyfriend, Warren. He is not quite as creepy-looking in real life.

The next thing I have on tap is the textiles show at the college. The poster was finalized this week. Perhaps a little more pinky than I would have chosen, but certainly eye-catching. It reminds me of a fairy tale landscape.

It`s going to be a beautiful show. I am lucky to be in a small department with exclusively talented people. It raises the bar for my own work and they are a constant source of knowledge and inspiration.

Having a little trouble deciding what to put in. I can submit three pieces for consideration. My paper quilt is a given, and I`m working on a mixed media nursery rhyme collection I have high hopes for. Other than that, either my digitally printed pillow, my dino screen prints, or my blimps and balloons pattern croquis. I`ll post them up here this weekend and you fine people can help me decide.